I write this post quite aware that there are many posts already out there on this topic, many different perspectives and many stories to tell. I am telling mine. This is what today means to me.
Last year at this time, I was lounging on my in-laws’ couch in Pound Ridge, NY as Zachy napped, sporting my compression socks for post-race recovery. I had run the More Fitness Half Marathon the day before, on my birthday, my first half post-baby. I was filled with calm and pride as I had just reviewed the race pictures.
As I turned on the TV, I learned of the terror in Boston, the images flashing on the screen, and me, in disbelief, mind reeling. I logged on to each and every social media outlet to update myself more (a sign of the times, no?). I knew some distant friends (some bloggers) who were running the race, and I also knew a particular friend was in Boston cheering her Mama on as she ran the race (I had seen this on Facebook earlier that morning). I didn’t think much about particular people or situations, but more about the running community as a whole. Call it selfish, but it honestly freaked me the F out. Selfishly, I thought, “that could’ve been me and my family,” as we had just been involved in an enormous race in NYC the day before. But then as the individual stories and pictures rolled out from the days’ events, I began to internalize it different. I felt a deep pit in my stomach, one that I will remember always.
It was the next day that I discovered how truly “close to home” this tragedy had struck. The lovely aforementioned friend that had been waiting to watch her Mom cross the finish had been seriously injured in the bombings. I found this out after receiving a very eery phone call from a reporter asking me to comment on my involvement in the attacks. Apparently another Jessica Downes had been seriously injured in the bombings and the reporter had traced the name to me via old race records. Creepy and very close to home. My dear dear friend Erika, a preschool teacher who had been my own student teacher years ago, was broken and shattered and I was devastated for her. Erika was there with me for some major events: the acquisition of my first puppy Oscar, a crazy year of teaching first graders, relationship ups and downs, babysitting at my sister-in-law’s wedding and many other things. I had taken her under my wing as a young teacher; she was bright, vibrant and LOVED children. Erika was the last bombing victim to leave the hospital. Today, she stands strong and is back in Boston for this year’s event. I am more than proud to know her and I love her dearly. I am SO sorry for what she has been through but am filled with pride at the way she has overcome these challenges. Her preschoolers are so lucky to have her as is each person who is lucky enough to know Erika. And now I am crying. Please consider donating to the Brannock Fund.
Anyway, that is what today means to me: it is a day to reflect but be proud of our rebuilding, to tell those we love that we do,and to run because we can. Today I ran for those who cannot. Today and every day, I feel blessed.